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Dr Daud Abdullah’s Open Letter to Secretary of State, John Denham

This is an open letter from Daud Abdullah.

You can read the Istanbul Declaration (pdf) here.

Monday 25th January 2009

Middle East Monitor, London

Mr John Denham MP
Secretary of State
Communities and Local Government
Eland House
Bressenden Place

22nd January 2010

Dear Secretary of State,

Re: Dr Daud Abdullah

I am taking this opportunity to write to you after the appearance of several articles about my signing the Istanbul Declaration in the national media among them the Daily Telegraph and the Jewish Chronicle which quote an official statement from your Department as saying,

“We still have concerns about the uncertainty of Daud Abdullah’s personal position on this issue. Until he is able to provide the clarification that we have always been seeking we will not be engaging with him.”

I am pleased that your Department has decided to restore formal relations with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). I always believed the decision to ostracise the organisation was unjust as the declared reason given by your predecessor was that I signed the Istanbul Declaration even though I made it clear from the start that I signed it in my personal capacity. I therefore welcome your change of policy in relation to the MCB.

However, I am shocked by continued assertions from your Department that my position is unclear. It may be that those who have written the latest statement did not read my original response to your predecessor or have chosen to ignore it, which was published in the Guardian (26th March 2009). As you were not the Minister at the time, let me reaffirm my position as I stated in my published response:

1. I did not call for or support attacks on British troops anywhere in the world. As a British citizen, I have the right to criticise and campaign against government political decisions that embroil young British soldiers in illegal occupations and interventions. One of the reasons I joined the demonstrations against the war in Iraq was to prevent the sacrifice of young soldiers in an illegal war. For this reason I was the first to go to Baghdad in 2004 to seek the release of the British hostage, Ken Bigley, despite threats to my life in Iraq and here in the UK after I returned. This move was welcomed by the government at the time, but it seems some have a short memory.

2. Unlike his predecessor, prime minister Brown has promised that any such future intervention would only be carried out after it is endorsed by parliament. All the assertions made by the secretary of state (Mrs Blears) are based on conjecture and totally hypothetical scenarios.

3. I am absolutely opposed to any attack or violence directed against innocent persons of any faith or no faith anywhere in the world. To claim that I call for attacks on Jewish communities throughout the world is completely false and an inflammatory and malicious assault on my beliefs, words and actions.

4. The Palestinians have the right to resist Israel’s illegal occupation, a right supported by international law and the Charter of the UN. In the same way as it is a common British value to respect international law and support justice and freedom of oppressed people, I, along with the Muslim community and large sections of the wider British society, support the rights of the Palestinians.

When I signed the Istanbul Declaration I did so on the basis of the above understanding. Unfortunately, your predecessor and others have interpreted it in a different manner; and even though they admitted in an official letter to the MCB that the wording of the document is “not exact” and “not specific”, your officials continue to assert that I advocate attacks on peoples of other faiths.

If anything good is to emerge from this saga it should be the affirmation of the independence and dignity of the Muslim Civil Society. However, Mrs Blears’ record at the CLG left the perception that the Government has one rule for Muslim spokespersons who take a stand on Israel, and another for the partisans of Israel many of whom publicly support and raise funds for the illegal actions and wars of the Israeli army. Others even invest in the illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank, a crime in international law.

Finally, for all its worth, please do not construe this as a personal appeal or request for an invitation to your department or any other, my only intent is to reaffirm my position. I have chosen to make this a public letter because the allegations about me are made in public.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Daud Abdullah
Middle East Monitor

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The blood of those who shed in the Gaza strip will not be in vain. The blood will water the machine of resistance. It will fuel the hearts of those who fight you in Gaza strip.